The Pentagon has issued a statement regarding US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ meeting his with Turkish counterpart, Nurettin Canikli at a NATO meeting in Brussels. The two spoke on the sidelines and Mattis urged Canikli to remain focused on defeating ISIS as the main priority in Syria.

Jim Mattes (left) in Brussels at NATO meeting 2017

Jim Mattes (left) in Brussels at NATO meeting 2017 Photo Credit: Jim Mattes/ WikiCommons

On Thursday, the Pentagon stated that US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis urged Turkey to remain focused on demobilizing ISIS. Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart Nurettin Canikli on the sidelines of the NATO meeting in Brussels. Mattis and Canikli were attending the NATO Ministers of Defense meetings.

Mattis stood firm in maintaining that the defeat of ISIS should be the priority in the region. Turkey and the US have disagreed thus far about the priorities, however the two agreed to proceed with a full force of “bilateral defense activities” and to form new means of cooperation.

The statement comes amid tensions between Turkey and the US over the situation in northern Syria, with Turkey angry over continued U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey, whose population consists of 20% Kurds, views YPG as a terrorist organization.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will be visiting Turkey on Thursday and Friday as a part of his Middle East tour. The conversation between Turkey and Tillerson is expected to be difficult seeing as the two countries differ on the priorities and decisions in Syria.